Emma Britton told The Chronicle on Tuesday morning she would be thrilled if one of her friends — the other four top candidates — won. Perhaps that attitude is what earned her the title of Little Miss Friendly that evening.
Each year, the title is held by an 8- to 10-year-old girl who embodies friendliness. Since 1968, it has been her responsibility to act as the “living logo” of the Southwest Washington Fair.
A 9-year-old from Chehalis who attends Orin Smith Elementary School, Emma comes from a friendly family: her grandmother, Julie Briggs held the title in 1979.
Shortly after she was cloaked with the iconic blue cape worn by many Little Miss Friendlies before her, Emma said, “I feel good. When I was at home and I was getting ready, I had a good feeling in my stomach, like something good was going to happen. And it did. I can’t believe it.”
On the Saloon Stage in front of a large crowd Tuesday evening, Emma was joined by four other candidates: Jaxsyn Lowrey, 10, of Adna; Finley Swope, 8, of Centralia; Gracelyn Briggs, 9, of Centralia; and Ella Hughes, 9, of Centralia. The five girls that morning all said they were excited — if a bit nervous — to see who would win the title later that day. They said the process had taught them a lot and they’d all become close friends.
At the ceremony, there were 14 previous Little Miss Friendlies, ranging from Nani Jackins, who wore the cape in 1975, to 2021 titleholder MaKayla Maynard.
MaKayla’s eyes welled with tears as she delivered a heartfelt goodbye speech, thanking her family members, sponsors and various community members for allowing her the honor of being the fair’s representative at parades and events.
“These last few weeks have been amazing with the top five girls, hanging out with them and making new friends,” MaKayla said. “These top five girls are a great choice and I'm excited to see who will take my place.”
Despite the crowd, Emma said she wasn’t nervous during the ceremony; she was on the stage with her friends.
She was also supported by family members including her younger sister, McKena, 4, and parents Britney and Blake Britton.
“I have been through so much with my friends and I’m going to miss them,” Emma said.
The fair will run through Sunday.
Entrance at the gate for adults costs $10 and $6 for children (ages 6-12), senior citizens (ages 65 and over) and anyone with a valid military ID. Children ages 5 and under can visit the fair for free all week long.
On Friday, Aug. 19 entrance for people with a military ID will cost $3. On Sunday, “Family Day,” all ages can visit the fair at half price, sponsored by 90.5 KACS radio.
For more information, visit https://southwestwashingtonfair.org/. The fairgrounds are located at 1909 S. Gold St., Centralia.